New forms arise, and diff'rent views engage,
Superfluous lags the vet'ran on the stage,
Till pitying Nature signs the last release,
And bids afflicted worth retire to peace.

But few there are whom hours like these await,
Who set unclouded in the gulphs of Fate.
From Lydia's monarch should the search descend,
By Solon caution'd to regard his end,
In life's last scene what prodigies surprize,
Fears of the brave, and follies of the wise !
From Marlb'rough's eyesthe streamsof dotage flow,
And Swift expires a driv'ler and a show.

* The teeming mother, anxious for her race, Begs for each birth the fortune of a face; Yet Vane could tell what ills from beauty spring ; And Sedley curs'd the form that pleas'd a king. Ye nymphs of rosy lips and radiant eyes, Whom Pleasure keeps too busy to be wise ; Whom joys with soft varieties invite, By day the frolick, and the dance by night ; Who frown with vanity, who smile with art, And ask the latest fashion of the heart; What care, what rules, your heedless charms shall

save, Each nymph your rival, and each youth your slave! Against your fame with fondness hate combines, The rival batters, and the lover mines, With distant voice neglected Virtue calls, Less heard and less, the faint remonstrance falls; Tir'd with contempt, she quits the slipp’ry reign, And Pride and Prudence take her seat in vain. In crowd at once, where none the pass defend, The harmless freedom, and the private friend.

* Ver. 289--345. VOL. I.

The guardians yield, by force superior ply'd ;
To Int'rest, Prudence; and to Fatt'ry, Pride.
Here Beauty falls betray'd, despis’d, distress’d,
And hissing Infamy proclaims the rest.
* Where then shall Hope and Fear their objects

find ?
Must dull suspense corrupt the stagnant mind?
Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate,
Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate?
Must no dislike alarm, no wishes rise,
No cries invoke the mercies of the skies ?
Enquirer, cease ; petitions yet remain
Which Heav'n may hear, nor deem Religion vaio.
Still raise for good the supplicating voice,
But leave to Heav'n the measure and the choice,
Safe in his pow'r, whose eyes discern afar
The secret ambush of a specious pray'r;
Implore his aid, in his decisions rest,
Secure, whate'er he gives, he gives the best.
Yet, when the sense of sacred presence fires,
And strong devotion to the skies aspires,
Pour forth thy fervours for a healthful mind,
Obedient passions, and a will resigned;
For love, which scarce collective man can fill;
For patience, sov'reign o'er transmuted ill;
For faith, that, panting for a happier seat,
Counts death kind Nature's signal of retreat:
These goods for man the laws of Heav'n ordain,
These goods he grants, who grants the pow'r to

gain; With these celestial Wisdom calms the mind, And makes the happiness she does not find.

* Vér. 346-365.



At the Opening of the Theatre Royal, DRURY LANE, 1747.

WHEN Learning's triumph o'er her barb'rous

foes First rear'd the stage, immortal Shakspeare rose; Each change of many-colour'd life he drew, Exhausted worlds, and then imagin'd new; Existence saw him spurn her bounded reign, And panting time toil'd after him in vain. His powerful strokes presiding Truth impress’d, And unresisted Passion storm'd the breast,

Then Jonson came, instructed from the school, To please in method, and invent by rule; His studious patience and laborious art, By regular approach assail'd the heart; Cold Approbation gave the ling'ring bays, For those, who durst not censure, scarce could praise, A mortal born, he met the genéral doom, But left, like Egypt's kings, a lasting tomb.

The wits of Charles found easier ways to fame, Nor wish'd for Jonson's art, or Shakspeare's flame, Themselves they studied, as they felt they writ; Intrigue was plot, obscenity was wit. Vice always found a sympathetic friend; They pleas’d their age, and did not aim to mend. Yet bards like these aspir'd to lasting praise, And proudly hop'd to pimp in future daye.

Their cause was gen’ral, their supports were strong, Their slaves were willing, and their reign was long: Till Shame regain's the post that Sense betray'd, And Virtue call’d Oblivion to her aid.

Then, crush'd by rules, and weaken'd as refin’d, For years the pow'r of Tragedy declin’d; From bard to bard the frigid caution crept, Till Declamation roard whilst Passion slept; Yet still did Virtue deign the stage to tread, Philosophy remain'd, though Nature fled. But forc'd, at length, her ancient reign to quit, She saw great Faustus lay the ghost of Wit; Exulting Folly haild the joyful day, And Pantomime and Song confirm’d her sway. But who the coming changes can presage, And mark the future periods of the stage? Perhaps, if skill could distant times explore, New Behns, new Durfeys, yet remain in store; Perhaps where Lear has rav’d, and Hamlet dy'd, On flying cars new sorcerers may ride : Perhaps (for who can guess th' effects of chance?) Here Hunt may box, or Mahomet * may

dance. Hard is his lot that, here by Fortune plac'd, Must watch the wild vicissitudes of taste ; With ev'ry meteor of caprice must play, And chace the new-blown bubbles of the day. Ah! let not Censure term our fate our choice, The stage but echoes back the publick voice ; The drama's laws, the drama's patrons give, For we that live to please, must please to live.

* Hunt, a famous boxer on the stage; Mahomet, a rope dancer, who had exhibited at Convenc-Garden Theatre the winter before, said to be a Turk.

Then prompt no more the follies you decry, As tyrants doom their tools of guilt to die ; "Tis

yours, this night, to bid the reign commence Of rescued Nature and reviving Sense ; To chase the charms of Sound, the pomp

of Show, For useful Mirth and salutary Woe; Bid scenic Virtue form the rising age, And Truth diffuse her radiance from the stage,

D 3

« ElőzőTovább »